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57th Wing [57th WG]

Fifty years ago the 57th Wing became a permanent establishment while stationed at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Originally, the Department of the Air Force established the 57th Fighter Wing on 15 March 1948 and organized it one month later, on 20 April. Although active from April, the temporary wing was part of an Air Force service test of what was called the "wing-base" plan. In 1948, the Air Force discontinued all of the temporary units and establishments and replaced them with new, permanent units and establishments with the same numerical and functional designations. Thus, on 20 September 1948, the Air Force activated the 57th Fighter Wing.

While stationed at Elmendorf AFB, the 57th defended Alaska's air space with the F-51 and F-80, operated satellite bases, and provided for intra-theater troop carrier and airlift support flying C-47, C-54, and C-82 aircraft. On New Year's Day 1951, the Air Force inactivated the wing and replaced it with the 39th Air Depot Wing. For the next 18 years, the 57th remained inactive.

On 15 October 1969, the Air Force activated the wing as the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, stationed at Nellis AFB with a new mission: providing graduate-level fighter pilot training and demonstration of tactical fighter weapons systems and tactics using F-4, F-100, F-105, and F-111 aircraft. Operational squadrons assigned to the 57th were the 65th, 66th, 414th, and 422d Fighter Weapons Squadrons and the USAF Weapons School. In February 1970 the wing became the host unit at Nellis and assumed control of most base functions, personnel, and equipment a position it relinquished to the 554th Operations Support Wing on 1 March 1980. In late October 1972, the wing received the first T-38 Talons to form an aggressor unit, the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron. By June 1973, the 64th became operational when 17 pilots completed the Tactical Air Command Aerial Attack Upgrade Course. The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron's T-38 aircraft complemented the 57th's mission when the Tactical Fighter Weapons Center reassigned the Thunderbirds to the wing on 15 February 1974. In 1976, the 57th received the Air Force's latest air superiority fighter, the F-15. The A-10 arrived in 1977, followed in 1981 with the F-16.

On 1 April 1977, the Air Force re-designated the wing as the 57th Tactical Training Wing and on 1 March 1980, the wing again became the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing. In late 1990 and early 1991, the 57th supported Operation DESERT STORM with deployed personnel, weapons testing, DESERT FLAG exercises, and USAF Weapons School combat studies. In October 1991, the Tactical Air Command re-designated the wing as the 57th Fighter Wing and added the F-15E to its aircraft inventory. With the addition of bomber divisions at the Weapons School, and the arrival of HH-60G helicopters, the 57th Fighter Wing re-designated as the 57th Wing on 1 April 1993.

Over the next five years, changes in organization and mission reflected the needs of a dynamic Air Force. In July 1995, the 57th Wing gained the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron, the first and only Air Force unit to operate the RQ-1A Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. By September 1996, the 11th was ready to accept Predator operations from the US Army at Taszar Air Base, Hungary. A second RQ-1A squadron, the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron, joined the 57th Wing on 1 August 1997. Four months later, on 4 September, the USAF Air Ground Operations School activated at Nellis AFB and brought together the 548th and 549th Combat Training Squadrons under one group.

The mission of the 57th Wing is to provide advanced aerospace training to worldwide combat air forces and showcase aerospace power to the world.

To accomplish its diverse mission, the Wing oversees the dynamic and challenging missions for all flying operations at Nellis AFB, including USAF Weapons School, "Red Flag", "Air Warrior" training and the Air Warfare Center's test and evaluation activities.

The wing manages flying operations and aircraft maintenance at Nellis AFB through six assigned units: the 57th Operations Group, 57th Logistics Group, USAF Weapons School, USAF Air Ground Operations School, USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (Thunderbirds) and 57th Wing Director of Tactics.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to distribute some of the 354th Fighter Wing's F-16 aircraft to the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base (18 aircraft). This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to realign Eielson Air Force Base, AK. Eielson's (11) military value was high because of its close proximity to valuable airspace and ranges. Eielson was, however, an expensive base to operate and improve (build). The Air Force would distribute the F-16s to Nellis (13) a base with high military value.

In another recommendation, DoD would realign Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Air Guard Station, St. Louis, MO. The 131st Fighter Wing's F-15s (15 aircraft) would be distributed to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (nine aircraft) and one other base. The Air Force distributed reserve component F-15C force structure to bases with higher military value than Lambert-St. Louis (127). The F-15C aircraft would be realigned to Nellis (13). The Nellis bound aircraft would help form an enhanced aggressor squadron for Operation RED FLAG.

DoD also recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base, NM. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing's F- 16s to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (seven aircraft) and several other installations. This move was recommended becasue Nellis (12) had a higher military value ranking than Cannon (50).



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